Art Lecture Series



Every fall, the Art Lecture Series Committee brings yet another fantastic series of lectures to the DCA. The lectures offer an in-depth look into a specific type of art or artist, and are led by curators and other art scholars from the region.

2018 Art Lecture Series — “Human Form in Space: Sculpture”

American artist Adolph “Ad” Reinhardt once commented, “Sculpture is something you bump into when you back up to look at a painting.”  The imbalance of attention given to sculpture is being addressed, concurrent with recent prioritizing on museum exhibition calendars. What is created when the sculptural imagination wrestles with ideas of the human form?

A 5th c. B.C. classical Greek monument of a woman in gold and ivory, an idealized form to match the (un)attainable perfections of the idea of Democracy.  700 years of faces, eyes, lips and limbs, separated by centuries and cultural ideas of meaning and expressions of “new”.  Passions of the heart translated into marble, bronze and plaster between two lovers in their Paris studio.  The “anti-statue” artist who rejects the figurative and monument form, creating a new vocabulary with the application of industrial techniques and a blow torch.

Thursdays: October 4, 11, 18 and 25
11:00am lecture, luncheon follows the lecture*

Presented by:

Brinda Kumar
Modern and Contemporary Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Jane R. Becker
European Paintings
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Milette Gaifman
Associate Professor, Classical Scholar
Yale University

Joan Pachner
Independent Scholar,
Author, David Smith Phaidon

*Specially designed luncheons by Diane Browne Catering.

The DCA Art Lecture Series is sponsored by Laurel Road Bank.

Like Life: Sculpture, Color and the Body (1300 – Now)

Thursday, October 4
Presented by Brinda Kumar, Assistant Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The thematic exhibition Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body (1300–Now) at The Met Breuer, brought together works from fourteenth-century Europe to the global present, to explore how and why artists blur distinctions between original and replica, between life and art. Contending with the traditions of Western aesthetics, yet often going beyond that canon, artists have used strategies—from the use of color to mimic skin to the integration of clothing—that can be surprisingly similar across time and geographies. Material similarities notwithstanding, the sculptures in the exhibition embodied dramatically shifting attitudes toward gender, race, class, sexuality, and religion over seven hundred years of sculptural practice. Like Life thus provided a point of departure for reexamining historical and contemporary preconceptions of the three dimensional body in art.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Video series:
Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body Symposium – Part One

Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body Symposium – Part Two

Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and the Body Symposium – Part Three

(Photo: Like Life: Sculpture, Color, and The Body, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Met Breuer, March 21 – July 22, 2018 Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art)


Camille Claudel, Auguste Rodin, and Influence Undone
Thursday, October 11
Presented by Jane R. Becker, European Paintings, Collections Management Associate, Metropolitan Museum of Art

On the heels of a year that marked the 100th anniversary of sculptor Auguste Rodin’s death, major sales of Camille Claudel’s work, and the opening of the Camille Claudel Museum in France, we will examine the interactions of both the lives and the art of these two late nineteenth-century figures. The sculptor Camille Claudel’s inventive and empathic representations of the human body are little known in this country. She was Rodin’s student, lover, sometime collaborator, and muse. She was also his teacher, interlocutor, and receiver of his passionate entreaties, as well as an independent female sculptor in an era when extremely few existed. Among the subjects to be explored will be the legacy of Rodin, the nature of his influence on Claudel as well as Claudel’s on him, and the relationship of their artworks to their tumultuous affair.

(The Implorer (L’Implorante) Camille Claudel (1864-1943). Modeled 1898, cast bronze ca. 1905. Metropolitan Museum of Art)


Athena of Parthenon: Icon of Democracy
Thursday, October 18
Presented by Milette Gaifman, Associate Professor, Greek Art and Archaeology, Yale University

The lecture focuses on the 5th century B.C. classical Greek statue of the Athena Parthenos-Athena the Virgin originally residing in the central sanctuary of the Parthenon in Athens. Towering over 40 feet tall, constructed of ivory and an estimate of 2,400 lbs. of solid gold, her wardrobe may have been the single greatest financial asset of the city. The sculpture had all kinds of sculptural decorations–in her hand, Nike symbolizing victory. Representations of the mythological battles of the struggles between the forces of justice and injustice, order versus chaos, speak to the real battles in Athenian society. On the base of the statue, Pheidias, thought to be the original sculptor, added a relief of the birth of Pandora, who is best known for letting loose evils from her famous box. Other representations of Athena Parthenos will be examined within the contexts of Athenian democracy and beyond.

(Athena of Parthenon ca. 1990, gilded 2002. Sculptor Alan LeQuire, gilder Lou Reed. Full-scale replica of Athenian original. The Parthenon, Nashville, TN)


David Smith’s Figures
Thursday, October 25
Presented by Joan Pachner, Author, David Smith Phaidon, Tony Smith Catalog Raisonné

In 1933 David Smith altered the course of American sculpture by welding together pieces of metal, a process used on car assembly lines, not in artist studios. His inspiration was a photograph he had seen in a French magazine of a welded steel sculpture from 1928 by Pablo Picasso, which set the young artist on a course to ignore rules that had governed and inhibited sculptors for centuries. Characterized by a seemingly endless flow of formal inventions, Smith’s goal was never complete abstraction; he was continually inspired by the human figure, although he did dismantle and reimagine its form. He envisioned his work as a continuation of the flow of visual history reaching back to prehistoric times. This talk will focus on sculptures from each decade of Smith’s revolutionary career, each intended as an example of his challenging, often humorous, reinterpretation of the human figure.

(Tanktotem IV, 1953, Tanktotem III, 1953, and 7/29/53, 1953, Bolton Landing Dock, Lake George, New York, 1953. Photograph by the artist.© Estate of David Smith/VAGA at ARS, NY)


2017 Art Lecture Series — “Winslow Homer: Four Perspectives”

For the first time, the Art Lecture Series focused on one artist, Winslow Homer, who is widely recognized as one of, if not the most important American artist. Known for his marine paintings, he is also considered to be one of the most acute observers of the human condition, addressing both the personal and political.

Presented by:
Kevin Murphy
Williams College Museum of Art
Williamstown, MA

Susan Faxon
Addison Gallery of American Art
Andover, MA

Marc Simpson, Art Historian
Homer Scholar

Stephanie Herdrich
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Painting for Money: Winslow Homer
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Presented by Kevin M. Murphy, Eugénie Prendergast Curator of American Art at WCMA

Winslow Homer has often been described as the quintessential American artist of the 19th century. In his work and his life, he seemed to be uncompromising — he developed a unique and powerful Realist style to depict the forces of nature and chose to live in rural Maine, close to the roiling sea that was often the subject of his brush, but far from the center of the American art world in New York. However, when it came time to sell his work, he was quite compromising. Homer often repainted or altered work that proved difficult to sell, responding directly to criticism in the press or from art dealers. This talk delved into Homer’s marketing of his work, and discussed how and why he altered beloved paintings now in the collections of such museums as the Clark Art Institute and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Man and Nature, Men and Women in the Addison’s Homer Paintings
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Presented by Susan Faxon, Associate Director and Curator, Addison Gallery

The Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, is noteworthy for its impressive collection of American art. The magnanimous gift of alumnus Thomas Cochran in 1931 included a Classical Revival building, endowments, and a founding collection of masterworks of American art by Copley, Stuart, Eakins, Sargent, Prendergast, and Hassam, as well as four paintings and seven watercolors by Winslow Homer.

The four Homer oil paintings that the Addison owns remain today among the most treasured works in the collection. In fact each spring, graduates return to the halls of the Addison to view Homer’s iconic Eight Bells. Why is this painting so compelling to those who viewed it as school boys? What does this painting and the Addison’s other three paintings say about Homer’s concept of mankind’s relationship to nature, and the artist’s perception of men and women?

Homer’s Humor: or, The Obtuse Bard Hiding His Light Under a Bushel
Thursday, October 19, 2017

Presented by Marc Simpson, noted Homer scholar, independent art historian, co-author with Colm Tóibín, Henry James and American Painting.

When we think of Winslow Homer, we often think of a misanthropic recluse on the coast of Maine. As with all generalizations, however, this characterization simplifies and flattens the individual; in fact the artist had a wicked sense of humor, one that was often in evidence throughout his career. We explored some examples of his wit in words and pictures. It is also true, however, that humor is challenging to translate from place to place or from one era to another. To demonstrate this, we casted a sustained look on one of Homer’s most important early paintings, The Bright Side, and responses to it.

Winslow Homer in the Caribbean
Thursday, October 26, 2017

Presented by Stephanie L. Herdrich, Assistant Research Curator of American Paintings, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Between 1884 and 1905, Winslow Homer often sought refuge from harsh Maine winters in the Caribbean. He was particularly fond of the Bahamas, which he visited three times and described as “the best place I have ever found.” His travels in the region inspired the ambitious and iconic oil painting, The Gulf Stream, as well as a considerable body of work in watercolor, ranging from the decorative and seemingly touristic to more complex images of the inhabitants of the region as they fish for sharks or harvest sponges. This talk considered the The Gulf Stream in relationship to Homer’s Caribbean watercolors, his broader career, and the social-political history of the late-nineteenth century.


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Past Art Lecture Series brochures – click below to view

2017 Art Lecture Series — “Winslow Homer: Four Perspectives”

2016 Art Lecture Series – “Between Modernity and Tradition: Impressionism”

2015 Art Lecture Series – “America is Hard to See” – Whitney Museum of American Art

Art Lecture Series Committee
Patricia Hedlund
Committee: Leslie Aloian, Marian Castell, Barbara Conrad, June Foster, Judy Rodriguez, Martha Yaney